My husband and I have spent the past few weeks in the book of Galatians. What wonderful encouragement is found in this this plea from Paul to hold tight to the freeing and life-altering truths of the Gospel! Here we have a message from the Holy Spirit: Don’t forget that Jesus is your righteousness. Nothing you can do in the flesh is of any account and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Paul emphatically states two truths:
1.) It is faith in Jesus–and Jesus alone–that saves you:
“…yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:16 ESV)
2.) It is God–and God alone–who continually sanctifies you:
“Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? …Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law or by hearing with faith– just as Abraham ‘believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness’” (Galatians 3:3-6 ESV)
After a beautiful explanation and defense of the Gospel message, Paul goes on to encourage the Galatians to live in the freedom purchased for them by Christ. Ruled by the Spirit of Christ who resides in us and brings forth real, tangible, lovely fruit, we are now able to please God and practically love those around us.
Those who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit will walk in step with the Spirit! They will be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What wonderful news! I don’t know about you, but this is exactly how I want to be characterized! I want to be loving. I definitely want to be a peacemaker and to be known as a joyful woman! I would love for faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to be words that define me! I want to be genuinely good…
Unfortunately, all too often I fail in most–if not all–of these areas! It can be discouraging to enjoy a wonderful, powerful, Spirit-filled Sunday morning at church hearing the Word of God preached and worshipping alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ only to get into a petty, argument with your husband on the way home. It can be downright painful to read about the patience of your Heavenly Father during your quiet time only to find yourself being irritable and impatient with your own children just moments later. Walking by the Spirit can be a lot harder than it initially sounds.
Apparently, according to Galatians, being led by the Spirit and living out our freedom requires real work on our part. How can I tell? These beautiful and oh-so-encouraging words found in chapter six verse nine:
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
This verse tells me that the temptation to feel frustrated and discouraged when trying to live righteously is natural. There is a reasonable explanation for this–the pursuit of holiness is hard! It is hard work fighting against the flesh which continually fights for dominance. It takes real effort to minute-by-minute put on the righteousness of Christ as we follow in his footsteps. There are two women at war within me: the slave woman (who loved sin and hated God) and the freed woman (who loves the Lord and hates sin).
This fight against the slave woman can be wearisome, but Paul encourages us to not give up! There is an end in sight; the battle will come to a close. And what’s more, we needn’t fear that we will ever be overcome! There is no uncertainty as to whether we will be victorious in this fight, because our victory has already been won.
Christ has secured full salvation for us–not just salvation from the penalty of sin (Hell), but from sin itself! One blessed day when we stand before him we will be washed completely free from the stain of sin and never again be haunted by its continual pull.
One day–one Sabbath day–we will rest from our fight against the flesh and on that day we will praise our God who worked mightily within us to do good.
Until that day, let us not grow weary dear sisters for we have a mighty and loving God.
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9-10 ESV)